The four of them were gathered on the far side of the locker room, shouting, carrying on, agitating and exhorting each other in what seemed to be a kind of clubhouse tribal rite; three Royals hitters, Hal McRae, Willie Wilson and Darryl Motley, and their hitting coach, Lee May. It was late Saturday night, or early Sunday morning -- take your pick -- and the Royals had just won Game 6, forcing a Game 7 in which they would face the very best pitcher St. Louis had, the commanding John Tudor, who was 23-2 since June 1 and already had won two games in the World Series.

It was McRae, his eyes wide and full of playful mischief, who asked it first, and he asked it of Motley.

"Who you looking for?"

And Motley screamed in glee, "Too-dah! Too-dah!"

"Willie," McRae called out to Wilson, "who you looking for?"

"Too-dah!" Wilson screeched, jumping up from his chair and doing an Ali Shuffle. "I got Tudor on the brain. He needs a loss. He's got to be 2-1. Won't be no fun if he's 3-0."

May came over to Wilson, got right up in his face, took tight hold of his shoulders, the way a father might, and said in no uncertain terms, "You got to do it quick -- five or six runs before he knows what happened. Make them pull their caps over their eyes."

And Wilson, who had a cigar in his hand, pointed it at May like a promise. "I may sleep at the ballpark," Wilson said. "I got Tudor on the brain."

Got the key match-up straight?

Wilson had Tudor on the brain.

And the Cardinals had Tudor on the mound. But not for long.

Whatever stuff Tudor had, pitchers all over the country can only hope it's not catching. He didn't last three innings. He gave up three hits, four walks and five runs -- two of them on a home run by Motley. Tudor hadn't been knocked out of a game this early since the Mets riddled him on April 22.

"You can't defend walks," Tudor said last night after the game. "It all came down to one ballgame, and that one ballgame was a complete disaster."

The Royals got to him quick, just the way May wanted, and made the Cardinals pull their caps over their eyes.

(Which, when you think about it, was the only intelligent way for a St. Louis fan to watch this game.)

Kansas City won, 11-0.

Think about that. Eleven-zip in a seventh game of the World Series.

Some people might say that the Cardinals laid down and played dead. How could you tell they were playing?

The Cardinals used five pitchers in the fifth inning. Five. Leading to six runs, seven hits and two ejections. A lot of teams save a pitcher to be a mop-up man. The way the Cardinals pitched, they needed janitor in a drum. "I wish we had the 10-run rule like they do at the Wichita tournament," Whitey Herzog said. "We could have gone home after the fifth inning."

Who had a big game for the Royals?

Who didn't?

Bret Saberhagen, who is too young to know that he's too young to pitch a shutout in the seventh game, pitched a shutout in the seventh game. George Brett, who makes his living with his bat, and is the most dominating and best clutch hitter in baseball, had four hits in his first four at-bats. Motley, Wilson, oh, you know what they say at the yacht club, the list goes on and on.

In retrospect, it might have been over for the Cardinals after Game 6. It's hard to imagine any team -- even one as pathologically resilient as these Royals -- coming back from the kind of emotional strip-mining that Saturday night's bottom of the ninth inning caused St. Louis. It is one thing to bounce up off the canvas. Kansas City did it twice in the postseason, once against Toronto after blowing a 5-4 lead in the 10th, and again in Game 2 of the Series after blowing a 2-0 lead in the ninth. But it is quite another to climb up out of the crypt. On both occasions the Royals had off days to gather themselves and regroup between Game 2 and Game 3. St. Louis had no time to exorcise the demons, and no precedent to cite.

Dan Quisenberry thought the Cardinals would shake it off. He said they had "some warriors over there, and on the good teams the warriors say the right things."

But who were the warriors?

And what did they say?

Did Tommy Herr say anything? He was third in the National League in runs batted in this season, 110. But he didn't get any in the Series. Did Ozzie Smith say anything? He was the hitting star of the playoff against Los Angeles. He he had but two hits in the Series. Did Whitey Herzog say anything? Anything wittier than what he said to the umpires that got him tossed? How about Joaquin Andujar? What the hell was he talking about?

Where is he going to be pitching next year? And wherever it is, will the umpires be given flak vests when he's on the mound?

You can feel good about this one.

The right guys won. Nice guys finished first. The Royals pitched the Cardinals back down I-70 and into Illinois.

You want to hear warriors? Listen to Wilson and what he said in the wake of Game 6: "We shocked the house! We shocked the nation, shocked the world! Shocked Japan, shocked all those places. And I'm telling you this, we've got one more game to go, and we're gonna shock the house again. Don't you count us out. We've been playing rope-a-dope until now. Now you'll see who we are."

The Royals were not supposed to be here at all, and if they got here, they were not supposed to last this long. They were champions of a weak division, and they finished next to last in hitting and runs scored in the entire American League. They were up against a team that won 101 games, the most in baseball, a team that led the National League in hitting and runs scored. They were, obviously, out of their element.

"One way or another," George Brett said, "we'd gotten to the last game of the season, and we've always said that if we won the last game of the season, then we've done good."

Damned good.